Organizations are investing time and resources in training the leaders of tomorrow to ensure that senior roles are handled by professionals with the right set of skills and clear goals. Good leaders are indispensable resources for an organization, not only because they contribute to the firm’s growth but they also drive innovation, create a good working environment and mentor the newcomers within the organization.

This blog will focus on the various components of a leadership development program and its importance. It will also give in-depth insights about how you can create an effective leadership development program. Read on to learn more about the intricacies of these programs and how developing a strong leadership team can drive an organization towards success.

What is a leadership development program?

Leadership development is a program that is implemented to widen the capacity of individuals to perform efficiently in headship roles within an organization. It focuses on developing and honing professionals’ abilities to take on critical responsibilities in an organization, such as designing and executing business strategies, building alignment and helping others with career growth. The development programs also help employees understand what not to do as a leader.

What does a leadership development program involve?

  • Context of leadership: a leadership development program should focus on strengthening the ties between individual employees and the company. Before creating a leadership development program for a group of employees, it is essential to understand their goals and identify why they want to develop leadership traits. The leadership development program should be designed around the strengths and goals of an employee.
  • Experiential learning: the objective of setting up a leadership development program is to help budding leaders understand leadership theories and their practical implementation. Hence, it is important that the programs incorporate experiential learning because it can not only retain employees but also better convey the leadership concepts to employees.
  • Acceptance to change: change is not always welcomed with open arms and it is no different in a work setting. When employees are trained to take on leadership roles, it is important that trainers encourage them to adapt to the change in responsibilities and rise to the occasion. The leadership development should include experiences that can assist participants in overcoming the resistance to change.
  • Constructive feedback: since employees will be entering a new horizon in their professional life, it is important that they receive qualitative and quantitative feedback to gauge their progress. Employees should be aware of how their leadership progress is influencing their business operations. Trainers should ensure that the feedback given to participants is constructive and helps them work on the skill gaps that might exist.

How to create an effective leadership development program?

Step 1: define the leadership goals of the organization

To create efficient and smart leaders, it is essential that they have complete knowledge and understanding of the leadership goals set by the organization. The foundational element of an effective leadership program is to clearly chalk out leadership goals. Furthermore, it is also important that the development program is created after factoring in the leadership gaps within an organization. For instance, if someone in the senior leadership team is quitting or retiring, the leadership program should focus on the attributes and characteristics that the business would miss. The development program should also be designed around the organization’s short-term and long-term strategic goals.

Step 2: focus on development

While the objective of leadership development programs is to train professionals in developing leadership skills, the approach should not be training-centric. It is essential to create a leadership program where employees are encouraged to develop the skills rather than being trained. Leaders must be nurtured and cannot be manufactured. The structure of the program should present participants with learning opportunities that allow them to grow as leaders. It should include important elements such as collaboration, mentoring and organizational planning. This will help participants to acquire skills that can help them become efficient leaders.

Step 3: Identify potential leaders

Identifying potential leaders is not an easy task to accomplish. While focusing on the top performers might seem the right thing to do, it won’t necessarily turn out to be the right decision. If an individual is an exceptional performer and has high productivity, it does not always mean that they will be good leaders. The traits of a leader are not synonymous with those of a good performer. When creating a leadership development program, it is important to scout beyond the obvious choices and explore more possibilities. It is essential that the chosen few have the potential and will to evolve as leaders within the organization.

Step 4: Gauging performance

This is an integral element in the creation of an effective leadership development program. It is important to chalk out the factors that would decide the success and impact of the program. Some of the factors that can contribute to measuring the success of a program include:

  • Number of employees who complete the leadership program successfully;
  • Number of successful promotions among the employees who participated in the program; and
  • Effectiveness of the employees’ leadership abilities.

Importance of leadership development programs

One of the major advantages of leadership development programs is that they have a positive influence on the productivity of employees;

  • they can enhance employee engagement and help create leaders that can effectively lead teams;
  • they create a positive work culture, encouraging more employees to learn at the job and work towards acquiring leadership roles;
  • Effective leaders help businesses develop unique and efficient strategies that can drive organizations to new heights;
  • they help create a positive image of the leadership, giving emerging leaders an example to live by.

The benefits of leadership development programs are countless. However, the key lies in creating a development program that matches the work culture and aims at reducing the leadership gaps within an organization. Today, organizations are not only looking for leadership abilities among applicants, but also the ability to nurture new leaders who can contribute to the organization’s goals. The responsibility of creating the leaders of tomorrow lies with the leaders of today. If you want to learn more about the intricacies of leadership development programs and enter the business sphere, you can take up the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program offered by University Canada West. Sign up for the program today and embark on the journey of becoming an effective leader.